Given the great weather in June there was still surprisingly little to eat in the garden. One thing we had was a few last strawberries before the plants got a bit excited about throwing out runners at any crack of land within a few metres reach.
Other plants were mostly beginning to set fruit. The pea, tomatoes, French beans and courgette had all moved past flowers onto early fruits too small to be eaten yet.
The basil was in full flow by June and we could hardly keep up with the rate we were getting leaves so we decided to do a big harvest and dry it. It was good to thin the plants out a bit and slow them down because they need to be kept tidy. We laid the picked leaves on a couple of cookie sheets and put them in the oven, with the door ajar, for over an hour on a very low heat. I took them out a couple of times and turned them over. As soon as a few of them were brittle I took them out and crumbled into a jar. Ideally there should have been kitchen paper under the leaves and I think that this would have helped as the under side was ‘sweating’ a bit. The result was that some leaves didn’t dry quite thoroughly enough.
It was nice to harvest some basil but I have mixed opinions about drying them this way. Using the oven, even on a low heat, for such a long time only for some basil seems wasteful. Also the masses of leaves dried down to what seemed like a small amount once it was put into a jar. Finally the taste of dried basil compared to fresh is totally different. This is not necessarily a bad thing of course, both are delicious in their own ways. But our dried basil tastes different from ones we have previously bought so it will take a little bit of getting used to. On the other hand this is a great way to save basil for the winter or darker months of the year and the leaves can be dried by hanging them in a warm, place which would much be much more energy efficient.
So that was June, a busy month of warm weather: everything in bloom and a few earlier things cropping.